Throughout the COVID pandemic, Mexico has remained one of the least restrictive countries when it comes to travel requirements. You only have to complete a declaration of health, and MAY be subject to health screenings such as a temperature check. Those exhibiting symptoms may be subject to additional health screening and/or quarantine. But other than that, there are no vaccination, testing or quarantine requirements to go to Mexico.
Not surprisingly, with such lax requirements (along with “recommendation” of wearing a mask), cases of COVID continue to rise in Mexico. And unfortunately, Americans who are not vaccinated against COVID, who travel to Mexico because they don’t have to worry about COVID requirements, wind up being many of the ones with the virus while on vacation.
Los Cabos is located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. It encompasses the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Thanks to the area’s beaches and desert landscape, more than 100,000 U.S. tourists visit every month.
For those who visit Los Cabos and require hospitalization due to COVID or any other reason, the U.S. consulate in Tijuana has recently issued a “health alert” about the practices of one of the hospitals in Los Cabos – St. Luke’s.
“U.S. citizens have reported instances of withholding care for payment, failing to provide itemized lists of charges, ordering unnecessary procedures, withholding U.S. passports, obstructing medical evacuations, and refusing to discharge patients without payment,” the consulate said in the alert.
The alert continued: “Please be advised that hotels and resorts in the Los Cabos area may have existing contracts or informal relationships with St. Luke’s.”
St, Luke’s highly questionable practices are apparently nothing new. Ten years ago, someone on a Trip Advisor forum asked what the best hospital in Cabo was (they had just had a health issue that could happen again, so they wanted to be prepared). Some of the replies were:
- Please stay away from one world by saint Luke’s hospital. It is in cabo across from gardenias restaurant. We had a terrible experience with the medical director trying to extort money from us. You can read the story under horrific cabo trip. We had to get our congresswoman involved just to get the hospital to send us the medical records and billing information for the insurance claim as the director refused to cooperate. Make sure you have trip insurance with medical because most policies make you pay up front and then you have to file for reimbursement. Have a safe trip! (CarmenCabo)
- Be aware that St. Luke’s has ambulance chasers out all the time…apparently the drivers are paid a healthy fee for picking you up off the street and bringing you to St. Luke’s. My Cabo friends told me that as long as I could talk to keep screaming DO NOT TAKE ME TO St. Luke’s!!! (TravelJudy)
- I am also a unsatisfied patron of Saint Luke’s… I am looking to talk to others who survived this place after a bad experience. I plan to go through proper Mexican legal channels to file complaint reports with profepa. I have been in contact with the consulate as well as Mexican attorney. My husband thankfully survived, others have not been so lucky. I would like to put a stop to the lack of information, extortion and threats (Suepaz2017)
- Stay away from St Lukes!!!!! Criminal!!!! (Weenerdog)
And then there was this story from ABC News:
Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching accounts was written in a formal complaint filed in August by Scott Lairson, a Los Angeles man whose wife, Patricia Lairson, was rushed to St. Luke’s while the couple were vacationing there in June. She was diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and pneumonia due to COVID-19.
Patricia Lairson had serious breathing problems and was treated at St. Luke’s for 12 days.
She got good treatment but the hospital administrators were extremely aggressive, telling her husband they would transfer his wife to the community hospital if he didn’t immediately pay $50,000 and that he would be unable to visit if he didn’t pay.
He put $10,000 on his credit card but had no more money. Eventually he paid $25,000 to get her flown to Arizona, where she died. The hospital has billed his insurance company, United Healthcare, $1 million, but never supplied the specific medical records of each treatment to justify that billing.
Lairson wrote that Mario Trejo Becerril, the hospital director, told him “I want that deposit today, you go outside and call your family, whoever you need to call or don’t come back to this hospital.”
“And if I ever hear about you recording conversations with your phone, you will never see your wife again!” Lairson recounted.
Tragic, Just tragic.
The consulate recommends using other hospitals in the area, if hospitalization is required.
Feature Photo: Stan Shebs / Wikimedia
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